• February 21, 2013
    http://www.dead.net/features/greatest-stories-ever-told/greatest-stories-ever-told-unbroken-chain
    Greatest Stories Ever Told - "Unbroken Chain"

    By David Dodd

    I think I have the very best true synchronicity story related to the Grateful Dead. An audacious claim, I know, but just listen to this.

    When I was a student at UC Davis, in 1976 or 1977, in my very first year of being a Deadhead, I was getting ready to ride my bike in to campus from my apartment. I was humming a Grateful Dead song, and hopped onto the bike. Just as I stepped onto the pedals and started pushing, I was singing “Blue light rain, whoah, unbroken chain,” and at that very instant my bike chain snapped.

    Over the years, I’ve heard many more synchronicity stories—I’d like it if you shared yours.

    “Unbroken Chain” is, for me, one of the BIG songs in the Dead’s repertoire. Words by Bobby Petersen, music by Phil Lesh, it stands as one of most musically complex pieces they performed, and the fact that it was never, until 1995, performed live in concert by the Grateful Dead puts it into a unique category. The roar that went up from the audience when they broke it out at the Spectrum in Philadelphia on March 19 of that year virtually drowned out the first minute of the performance. It stayed in the live repertoire during that final tour, and was played in the penultimate spot in the second set of their last show on July 9, straight out of Drumz and into “Sugar Magnolia.” Ten live performances.

    But the studio version on Mars Hotel always blows me away. The mysterious studio sounds that resemble jet planes taking off or water dripping, the incredible Garcia solo, the rapid changes in mood and the twists and turns of tempo and structure all combine for a wild ride. And Bobby Petersen’s lyric is right up there with some of Hunter’s best, for me.

    The title has been taken up by a number of entities and events over the years—somehow it exemplifies something about the band. There was a fanzine called “Unbroken Chain,” started in 1986 by Laura Paul Smith and continued under the editorship of Dave Serrins, running for more than ten years. The Phil Lesh charitable foundation is called Unbroken Chain. And a large conference was held at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, a few years back, also called Unbroken Chain. Clearly, the phrase appeals to Deadheads in a big way.

    In the Annotated Lyrics, I devote a half-column of annotation to the concept of “unbroken chain,” mostly as a theological construct relating to the transmission of authority. In Petersen’s lyric, the unbroken chain is “of you and me,” as well as “of sorrow and pearls,” “of sky and sea,” and “of the western wind.” Image after image in the lyric is put forth, each layering onto the other in a cumulative accretion of meaning. Like a pearl, maybe. For me, the imagery and the phrase “unbroken chain” together work to tell me to make my own meaning of what is around me, whether it be from loss, from sorrow, from the natural world, or from my fellow human beings.

    Last week, I was at the Grateful Dead Archive at the UC Santa Cruz library, and there, in a glass case, was a lyrics sheet for “Unbroken Chain” with Garcia’s handwritten notes for the chords. Someday I have to head down to the Archive and spend some time with the Bobby Petersen papers.

    For awhile, I speculated that Bobby Petersen may have been gay, what with the line about catching it when you try to love your brother. Probably not, but an apt line for our times, from a number of perspectives.

    This song mentions lilacs, so it reminds me of my mother, whose birthday was this week. She would have been 90 on Monday. A few years ago I planted a lilac in my back yard in her memory, as the first plant in what has become my Grateful Dead theme garden. Kind of a fun idea, I think, to grows plants mentioned in Grateful Dead songs. So far, I have manzanita, lilacs, begonias, roses, and lilies. I’d like to add a magnolia. For years I have been unsuccessfully seeking a real American Beauty rose, but have had no luck as yet. Mangrove might be a bit tough, and a weeping willow would take up too much room.

    In San Francisco, there’s a Shakespeare Garden in Golden Gate Park (I’m sure they have these in many places throughout the world), which has all the plants mentioned in Shakespeare. I would love to see a garden like that in Golden Gate Park for the Dead—a civic Grateful Dead Garden. There they could grow all the plants—barley, wheat, corn, and on and on. A weeping willow by the bank’s green edge. Hey, we can dream, can’t we?

    I’m hoping for a conversation that could include synchronicity, gardens, authority, gay rights, and anything else that might be on your mind. Over to you!

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By David Dodd

I think I have the very best true synchronicity story related to the Grateful Dead. An audacious claim, I know, but just listen to this.

When I was a student at UC Davis, in 1976 or 1977, in my very first year of being a Deadhead, I was getting ready to ride my bike in to campus from my apartment. I was humming a Grateful Dead song, and hopped onto the bike. Just as I stepped onto the pedals and started pushing, I was singing “Blue light rain, whoah, unbroken chain,” and at that very instant my bike chain snapped.

Over the years, I’ve heard many more synchronicity stories—I’d like it if you shared yours.

“Unbroken Chain” is, for me, one of the BIG songs in the Dead’s repertoire. Words by Bobby Petersen, music by Phil Lesh, it stands as one of most musically complex pieces they performed, and the fact that it was never, until 1995, performed live in concert by the Grateful Dead puts it into a unique category. The roar that went up from the audience when they broke it out at the Spectrum in Philadelphia on March 19 of that year virtually drowned out the first minute of the performance. It stayed in the live repertoire during that final tour, and was played in the penultimate spot in the second set of their last show on July 9, straight out of Drumz and into “Sugar Magnolia.” Ten live performances.

But the studio version on Mars Hotel always blows me away. The mysterious studio sounds that resemble jet planes taking off or water dripping, the incredible Garcia solo, the rapid changes in mood and the twists and turns of tempo and structure all combine for a wild ride. And Bobby Petersen’s lyric is right up there with some of Hunter’s best, for me.

The title has been taken up by a number of entities and events over the years—somehow it exemplifies something about the band. There was a fanzine called “Unbroken Chain,” started in 1986 by Laura Paul Smith and continued under the editorship of Dave Serrins, running for more than ten years. The Phil Lesh charitable foundation is called Unbroken Chain. And a large conference was held at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, a few years back, also called Unbroken Chain. Clearly, the phrase appeals to Deadheads in a big way.

In the Annotated Lyrics, I devote a half-column of annotation to the concept of “unbroken chain,” mostly as a theological construct relating to the transmission of authority. In Petersen’s lyric, the unbroken chain is “of you and me,” as well as “of sorrow and pearls,” “of sky and sea,” and “of the western wind.” Image after image in the lyric is put forth, each layering onto the other in a cumulative accretion of meaning. Like a pearl, maybe. For me, the imagery and the phrase “unbroken chain” together work to tell me to make my own meaning of what is around me, whether it be from loss, from sorrow, from the natural world, or from my fellow human beings.

Last week, I was at the Grateful Dead Archive at the UC Santa Cruz library, and there, in a glass case, was a lyrics sheet for “Unbroken Chain” with Garcia’s handwritten notes for the chords. Someday I have to head down to the Archive and spend some time with the Bobby Petersen papers.

For awhile, I speculated that Bobby Petersen may have been gay, what with the line about catching it when you try to love your brother. Probably not, but an apt line for our times, from a number of perspectives.

This song mentions lilacs, so it reminds me of my mother, whose birthday was this week. She would have been 90 on Monday. A few years ago I planted a lilac in my back yard in her memory, as the first plant in what has become my Grateful Dead theme garden. Kind of a fun idea, I think, to grows plants mentioned in Grateful Dead songs. So far, I have manzanita, lilacs, begonias, roses, and lilies. I’d like to add a magnolia. For years I have been unsuccessfully seeking a real American Beauty rose, but have had no luck as yet. Mangrove might be a bit tough, and a weeping willow would take up too much room.

In San Francisco, there’s a Shakespeare Garden in Golden Gate Park (I’m sure they have these in many places throughout the world), which has all the plants mentioned in Shakespeare. I would love to see a garden like that in Golden Gate Park for the Dead—a civic Grateful Dead Garden. There they could grow all the plants—barley, wheat, corn, and on and on. A weeping willow by the bank’s green edge. Hey, we can dream, can’t we?

I’m hoping for a conversation that could include synchronicity, gardens, authority, gay rights, and anything else that might be on your mind. Over to you!

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I think I have the very best true synchronicity story related to the Grateful Dead. An audacious claim, I know, but just listen to this.

When I was a student at UC Davis, in 1976 or 1977, in my very first year of being a Deadhead, I was getting ready to ride my bike in to campus from my apartment. I was humming a Grateful Dead song, and hopped onto the bike. Just as I stepped onto the pedals and started pushing, I was singing “Blue light rain, whoah, unbroken chain,” and at that very instant my bike chain snapped.

Over the years, I’ve heard many more synchronicity stories—I’d like it if you shared yours.

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It was a shame the boys didn't take it up in '77. The reality is we are all inter-connected. This song is a brilliant expression of this sentiment. One of my favorites. The Charlotte Chain is the most together imho.
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I am awake in the deep night reading this and thought to listen to the performance of this song live. The roar of the crowd moved me to tears. I miss you all.
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The only time I was fortunate to catch this tune live, and what a performance, the highlight of the night's performance, complete with airplane sounds, the only one that I have heard with the special "sound effects". When the first notes of the preamble started I was the only one in the immediate area that recognized it, I could not believe my ears, Jerry was so sweet with this song and why they did not play it before 95 is a mystery, any one know why the hold out of this beautiful song till then? Gay reference, never noticed it before now and I'm sure that is not what they were thinking with that line. I too had a dead garden, good luck finding an american beauty rose, very hard to find these "antique" varieties of roses, the best way is to find one in a garden that is all ready growing and take a cutting and propigate yourself, it is not that difficult and fun and the result is a true american original. My grandmother use to be able to take rose cuttings and put them under a glass and they would root with out root stimulate, she had the biggest green thumb of anyone I ever met. When I first got into the dead back in the 70's I always thought one of those guys must be a horticultralist, due to the many references to plants and trees in their songs, and I thought that was a pretty cool thing being a horticultralist myself.
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The song always reminds me of the phone call made in the Koolaid Acid Test to - help me w/ the name - whose presence was being requested at La Honda for the party that was beginning. It took a little coercing, but the invitee jumped in his car and took the harrowing jaunt in record time. I believe he was coined the Intrepid Traveler. My current bouts of synchronicity seem to happen when I'm driving and Jack Straw is playing. I'll look up through the sunroof and there it is, another US flag. I've had a love affair with magnolias from the time I was a kid. Our family had a huge one and it's flowers would bloom and make fragrant the whole house when we had the windows open in late May and June. I planted my own over 20 years ago and he does OK, but not like the beauty we had once ago. Plant that Sugar Mag, Sr. Dodd.
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I'm a few over 100 pages into "Searchin' For the Sound" for the third time. ooooooOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
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The linkage from Unbrokern Chain to bicycles can lead us to Dr Albert Hoffman, and the story of his illuminated bicycle ride from his lab to his home on April 19th, 1943. That in turn links to a television current affairs show I watched last week, when an inteviewer asked whether a politician could mount a comeback tilt at the leadership. "Sure," said the pundit, "its just like riding a bicycle." The interviewer responded, "You mean it's better on drugs?"
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this chain that Bobby Petersen wrote about, was a chain in need of repair.Much like your experience David. I assume you repaired the chain, making it unbroken, allowing you to furthur your studies?
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about religion being an enslaver of free thought and human rights-maybe some hints of segregation and the old south-I don't know-definitely food for thought in that song and the style and sound of the music (also hints of the crucifixtion of Christ along with subtle images of lynching)
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I think like just about every GD lyric worth its salt, this one has multiple things going on, one of which is the old brotherly love thing and one of which is a snark at the treatment of gay people. I don't know that Bobby Peterson was as good as Hunter at embedding multiple paradoxes in a single verse, but he was perfectly capable of conveying complexities!
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Does anyone else remember the television commercial for the Wake Of the Flood album featuring a Gary Guiterez animated flying crow descending and descending and descending to the musical break of "Unbroken Chain" that aired during the first network TV showing of the movie "Bonnie & Clyde" on a Sunday night in 1974? That was weirdTry "Roses of Yesterday & Today" in Corralitos Ca for old time roses. They are fantastic!
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Hi everyone, and thank you for your extended thoughts on the song, along with tips for where I might possibly find an American Beauty rose! I definitely have to always agree with each and every potential interpretation--if it's what it means to you, then it's valid. And if that idea rings true for someone else, or if there's a conversation that is engendered as a result, that is just gravy. Thanks for the link (!) to Albert Hoffman, Robin! I had the privilege of hearing Mr. Hoffman speak live at a symposium at UC Santa Cruz, entitled "LSD: A Generation Later." It was quite wonderful, and he received a long standing ovation when he entered the room. He described that bicycle ride. I want to see that TV commercial!! Wow. Enjoying the conversation about religion, multiple meaning in lyrics, and plants!
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I am looking at the lyrics and something caught my eye....Was Peterson a sports fan? Now we know that Bobby and Phil enjoy sports especially baseball and football. The lines that grabbed me were; "They say love your brother but will you catch it when you try" "Roll you down the line boy, drop you for a loss" "November and more as I wait for the score" We all know that sports teams have a brotherly comadarie with each other and catch it when you try is the effort made to catch the football. I am assuming football because of the next line about rolling down the line as in scrimage and dropping for a loss in yardage behind the line of scrimage. Was the narrator watching games in November and fell asleep and now has to wait for the 11 o'clock news, remember that this song was written well before ESPN and 24 hour cable sports channels. I also love the tempo shift in the middle. It sort of reminds me of a King Solomon vibe and perhaps Phil was trying to find the groove for this and it didn't hit him until Blues For Allah.
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I believe the commercial you are referring to is part of the extras on the Grateful Dead Movie DVD
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Unbroken Chain was a song< I had never expected to hear live...it had moved to the "What Became Of The Baby" closet.....I was in Philly for the debut.....While it was extremely blissful, it was also a very real enigma. I couldn't stop thinking about why now.Clearly Garcia's playing was suffering.........Did he just want to have the band give it a go, before it was too late? Was it a tip of the hat towards Garcia, knowing it was written for Phil's father, as he was moving on. It was all that was left to uncover.....The secret had been shared......"listening for the secret, searching for the sound". cause the loss of Garcia was at hand. With his passing, we would all be searchin' for the sound. While the Grateful Dead never really performed it to its potential live, Phil and Friends from 1999 with Warren Haynes and Furthur have really made it a show highlight. Jay Doublu
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A late summer show at Frost Amphitheater on the Stanford campus (don't recall the date - '83 or so). It was an overcast day. I remember a very young boy, completely naked, complaining to his mom that he was cold. The band was playing "Althea" at the time, and when Jerry sang, "this space is getting hot," the clouds instantly parted and the sun broke through brightly. When he repeated the line, "you know this space is getting hot," it actually was, suddenly, rather hot! And the event was not lost on the crowd: a very loud roar erupted as everyone soaked in the warmth of the moment. Jerry grinned broadly. That was a good day.
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I know similar moments like this have happened to me...I know because people tell me stories about when...but I can never seem to remember these powerful moments. That being said, Bolo's story sounds really special and I don't doubt it for a second. Had it just been you and the kid, it'd be different, but the whole crowd erupting shows how GD were really (and still are) connected to something that just can't be explained. Now Im going to tell a story that might sound ridiculous compaired to bolo's and others stories but I feel it has some connection. I've said this before and I'll say it again but every time Im on a long road trip and if Im listening to a live album that happens to have Dark Star on it...one of those older Dark Stars that is just a perfect musical ride...the ups and downs of the song will absolutely fit perfectly with what is happening with the traffic. Yes, I know this is dumb compared to other stories, but if you were talking to my ex about how I used to say this all the time and she'd think I was joking but saw what I was talking about when we were driving through the mountains of Tennessee and no one would be around...then someone would cut me off or pull out in front of me...and suddenly the music would move from some mellow spaced out moment into some dissonant, intense build-up before quickly settling back down...Sorry for this ridiculous story but I cant tell you how many times this has happened on a road trip.
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I think synchronicity is a theme of the song in a sense. I was just referencing that quote from Repo Man about the "plate o' shrimp" somewhere else. I think I am warming up to your somewhat stream-of-consciousness prose, David! I attended both Hampshire and UMass, but I wasn't in Amherst for the conference. Heard about it though. Unbroken Chain is a special song. The studio version was always a favorite. My personal story is just that I stopped seeing the band after Brent died, other than a JGB show, partly because of sadness and the loss of 'that' band, and partly because of geography. I was living in Oregon, Alaska, and Germany at times they weren't in those places. But after 5 years I ended up seeing the boys on that final summer tour of '95. One show. Giants Stadium. And they played it...so what if Jerry basically laid out during the solo. It was special...and synchronous...and a chance to say goodbye to the Grateful Dead, even if I didn't know it at the time. Psyched for Capitol Theatre Furthur shows!
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I've told this story before, but it bears repeating here as we have drifted into a conversation about weird GD coincidences. I attended a Garcia solo acoustic show in Boston (82?). Great experience all around except one bonehead who kept yelling, "Gaaaarcia!" during quiet moments. Anyway, someone gave me an audience recording of the show and during "Gomorrah" just after Jerry sings, "I heard a voice telling me to flee," someone near the taper is having an argument about who should be sitting where, and says angrily, "Get the f**k out of here!" That aside, "Unbroken Chain" has always been an unusual side-trip in the repertoire for me. I love it in the context of the studio album, and it still makes me smile during a Furthur show these days. I think I'll crank it up on the way to work this morning. Thanks!
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For those who haven't experienced it yet, the "Unbroken Chain" at Furthur's 1/19/2013 show (Sweetwater, Mill Valley) may be the best version I've ever heard. 15+ minutes of aural bliss, a really poignant version of a cool song. In addition to excellent instrumental work, it contains the finest vocal performance by Phil that I can recall in his 70+ years. Worth checking out.
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Hello everyone. I think my favorite comment, speaking purely egotistically, is Old School Chuck saying that he may be warming up to my writing style. I know I am kind of stream of consciousness-- that is, I am not particularly oriented towards picking a thesis, explaining the arguments, and wrapping everything up with a bow. But hey, the world never works that way in my experience. And my brain is basically the attic of my life--I rummage around and find all kinds of cloudy dreams unreal all the time. Which makes me think that all the other comments about synchronicity have to be my favorite kind of Grateful Dead experience to read or hear about. Driving to Dark Star! Absolutely. Sun breaking through during Althea! (I think I was at that one and I remember the roar of acknowledgement!) Serendipity, coincidence, luck, or their opposites, are things we pay more attention to when we are fined-tuned to our environment. I think these things are there all the time, and in fact, maybe there's nothing particularly "special" about them. But finding those things in life, and in art, makes life worth living to me. I'm glad Unbroken Chain is in the Furthur repertoire these days, along with all the other stuff the Dead never seemed to do. Here's to more!
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Picture Spring Tour '88, 1967 VW pop-up rollin' to .Atlanta - Hampton and I can't get enough Peggy-O. I've got the same three tapes with it playin' over and over my guy thinks I'm nuts, but I don't care. We arrive at the Hampton Coliseum- someone starts a kerfuffle at the gate. We're still outside as the Music starts!! Finally we make it in the last strains of NMB fade and I walk right though the parting sea of bodies and stand front row before Jerry. He paused looked directly at me gave a wink and a nod and broke into Peggy-O. I must confess that I'm crying as I write this,I miss him everyday.Needless to say my boyfriend nearly s..t himself. Another story that stands out in my mind. The last shows I attended before we lost Jerry, I was 3mons. pregnant with my 1st child.Memphis 95 after the show, I'm not sure which night,i'm talking to my friend Paul relating that I always think that one day I'll run into our old friend Marta in the lot. Back at the hotel someone turns on the TV , I hear a familiar voice and turn to see Marta on the screen. A documentary about the Rainbow Family was playing and there she was! We're all connected ALL the time ..like David said we're just oblivious most of the time. Peace-Love & Scarlett Begonias! Christie
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OK, we all know that our experience with this band is just loaded with synchronicity, but here's one of the more epic ones I experienced. It was after night two at Oxford Plains, 1988 and I was hanging around a campfire with a group of people who were all in a pretty psychedelicized stated. One of them, we'll call her Jane, was missing her supposed boyfriend, let's call him John Doe, who I knew quite well. I knew he was at the shows, but none of us had seen him all weekend, and most of us knew he was with another girl, so we expected him to lay low. She was really pissed that he had blown her off and was basically venting to all who listened about what a horrible person he was was and what she was going to do when she finally saw him again (assuming all the while that he was not at the show). I also knew that he was essentially a good guy, but had little self-control when it came to matters of the heart and that he really did love every woman that he was with, but he also found something compelling to love in every woman he met. So, yeah, he was a dog, but these guys are out there, along with women like that, too. It's part of who some people are. So, you just have love them for who they are, enjoy your time with them, but it's asking for trouble to fall in love with them and expect them to change. It was also the first time I'd heard Foolish Heart, so it was right on topic. So, I'm listening to Jane go on and on and there is a girl right by her side who's obviously in the 15th dimension, listening intently to every word that Jane said. Finally, I was feeling so much compassion for Jane, knowing that she might go through this again, and so much compassion for all the people who had given their love to someone who is essentially good but unreliable that I said to her "Jane, I'd like to apologize for all the John Doe's in the world." And right at that moment, out stepped John, saying "No need to apologize for me!" with absolutely perfect timing. The girl who had been listening to every word turned to him and said "Oh, you're John Doe! Someone was just talking about you and they said.....!" and stopped as the full inertia of all that Jane had said in the previous hour caught up with her. Of course, Jane went off with John for rest of the night and all was forgiven, but the idea that out of 180,000 people hanging outside in the dark, scattered everywhere, John could have found us and stepped up at that very moment and right into the conversation was staggering. Earlier that night, I was also caught by a moment of synchronicity that was elegant and awesome in how prosaic it was. The sun was going down, it was getting a little bit chillier and darker. I was watching one of the spotlight operators during a jam. He let go of his spotlight, leisurely took off his jacket, picked up a sweater, put it on, picked up his jacket it, put it on, zipped it up and then grabbed his spotlight and swung it around to catch Bobby as he stepped up to sing the final verse. He did everything with absolutely deliberateness, no hurry, and yet it was done at just the perfect moment to swing into action. These are the moments of synchronicity that happened all the time but that no one really noticed. It wasn't just Jerry that was channeling this stuff, it was all of us. This stuff happens all around us every day, we just need to pay attention. Perhaps that's the real legacy of the Grateful Dead.
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That is one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me, Jim!
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So much to say about this song!! I can't believe I was lucky to be there the first time they played it in Philly and have enjoyed the beautiful extended jamming that's become the even more wonderful part of the song over the years. Saw a great version when sax player Greg Osby was sitting in with one of the bands post-Dead, b4 Furthur, in Camden NJ, that was amazing.This was always one of my very favorite GD songs from first listening on Mars Hotel in the fall of 1973. I just was getting into meditating and the unique whirry sound during the break was something that some of the meditation gurus would talk about when describing "the inner sound"... for what that's worth.. I went to tons of shows in 73-74 and would always scream for Unbroken Chain but to no avail-- there were rumors that they sound checked it... who knows... finally they played it and since then it's become such a wonderful part of the band's repertoire. Am I right that Phil has moved the lyrics around, during the last verse?? David, while I am very sensitive about gay issues (my son came out last year...), I think it's a stretch to say that the lyric about Love your Brother is about that. The lyrics are very much about religion... and I think how religion really doesn't really work... " "Listening for the secret, searching for the sound But I could only hear the preacher and the baying of his hounds"... that is, yearning for the mystical but only hearing the preacher-man... "They say love your brother but you will catch it when you try" ... again, what the religious people tell you "love thy brother as thyself" is the first commandment.... and he's saying... well, do the best you can.. "Ride out on a cold railroad and nail you to a cross".... another image about what the religious will do to you if you don't fit into their world "They're telling me forgiveness is the key to every door".... again THEY are saying what to do, but it doesn't always work for the true seeker who lives outside the lines, as Bobby Petersen did.... this is such an incredibly beautiful song and the music really does sound like Lilac Rain....
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I came upon The broken bike chain story and was compelled to tell my own. I'm from Louisiana but was staying with my Buddy in Davis, CA in 99'. I left my bike by accident at "The Domes" community before returning home. I went back up to Davis two years later to find my bike with the same tie-dyed stealie sticker in the exact spot I left it. I get a miracle every day!
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I was at an Oakland show where was down In front like 20 feet from the Band and standing next to a guy who was a song expert. He was calling the songs before they played a note of them because he had been studying set lists fro the current tour. I remember specifically he said ok it's Cowboy Bob time so it's gonna be me and my uncle or maybe Mexicali now but prolly Me and My Uncle and he was batting 1000. This was Mardi Gras 93 I think. I had a recording where in between songs you could hear a fan say "Hey Jerry Jerry Alligator man" in between the songs. Unbroken Chain was a favorite and I had no idea it had never been played live. I saw my first dead show at In concert against Aids in 1989. Since I was so close to the stage I waited until there was a relatively quiet spot in between songs where the crowd had quieted to hear the next song but the band hadn't started playing yet and then I screamed "Hey Phil play Unbroken Chain". The expert and several others around me scoffed and laughed, one comenting yeah right you might as well have asked for St Stephen. Well when I heard they brought it out in 1995 I wondered if Phil had heard me and thought yeah we should rehearse that after this tour. Now I am wondering if anyone has a tape where I can be heard. It would have to have been picked up by the bands mic because the tapers were on the back wall at those shows I think. Does anyone have access to those recordings from the board? I am pretty sure it was Feb 93 but it could be 92 Dec or feb. in any case it was certainly Oakland. I usually didn't want to fight my way to the front and I think my reason for doing it this one time was Just to ask for unbroken chain. Has Phil ever said what inspired him to do it live for the first time so many years after Mars Hotel? I would not think I was the only one that ever screamed it out but these were the hard core heads that got that close and they all looked at me like only an idiot would say what you just said. Except for that one recording I have I don't remember anyone ever yelling out a request but as I said before I liked to dance so I had only got this close to the band once. If anyone has a tape with me on it or a Phil interview where he says why 95 please message me. People won't believe I had anything to do with it unless I have proof.
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Sending beautiful birthday vibes to Phil Lesh from the legions of 'links' in the 'unbroken chain' ... much love to you and your family and your extended musical family ... thank you for all you create and inspire. LESH IS MORE!
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9 years 8 months
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A couple weeks ago I had a premonition a GD cover band I was going to see would play it, and they did. But that's not the coincidence I wanted to mention.

I too was once riding my bicycle, I was listening to 5/19/77, on 5/19 of whatever year it was, 2005 I believe. I was riding late at night on these old back roads when I hit a gap on the shoulder of the road wrong and had a wipeout during China Doll. I wasn't hurt too bad, just shook up, I was only going 14 mph (that's the last thing I remember seeing on the odometer I had on the bike). As I got to my feet to make sure nothing was broken, I realized my cd player survived the fall. And as I stood I heard the line "pick up your China Doll...it's only fractured...just a little nervous from the fall." I smiled, brushed myself off, and rode the few miles left I had to get home.

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    jimf
    2 weeks 2 days ago
    A couple weeks ago I had a…

    A couple weeks ago I had a premonition a GD cover band I was going to see would play it, and they did. But that's not the coincidence I wanted to mention.

    I too was once riding my bicycle, I was listening to 5/19/77, on 5/19 of whatever year it was, 2005 I believe. I was riding late at night on these old back roads when I hit a gap on the shoulder of the road wrong and had a wipeout during China Doll. I wasn't hurt too bad, just shook up, I was only going 14 mph (that's the last thing I remember seeing on the odometer I had on the bike). As I got to my feet to make sure nothing was broken, I realized my cd player survived the fall. And as I stood I heard the line "pick up your China Doll...it's only fractured...just a little nervous from the fall." I smiled, brushed myself off, and rode the few miles left I had to get home.

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    Magick
    1 year 8 months ago
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY PHIL!
    Sending beautiful birthday vibes to Phil Lesh from the legions of 'links' in the 'unbroken chain' ... much love to you and your family and your extended musical family ... thank you for all you create and inspire. LESH IS MORE!
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    Vapour
    2 years 11 months ago
    My synch story
    I was at an Oakland show where was down In front like 20 feet from the Band and standing next to a guy who was a song expert. He was calling the songs before they played a note of them because he had been studying set lists fro the current tour. I remember specifically he said ok it's Cowboy Bob time so it's gonna be me and my uncle or maybe Mexicali now but prolly Me and My Uncle and he was batting 1000. This was Mardi Gras 93 I think. I had a recording where in between songs you could hear a fan say "Hey Jerry Jerry Alligator man" in between the songs. Unbroken Chain was a favorite and I had no idea it had never been played live. I saw my first dead show at In concert against Aids in 1989. Since I was so close to the stage I waited until there was a relatively quiet spot in between songs where the crowd had quieted to hear the next song but the band hadn't started playing yet and then I screamed "Hey Phil play Unbroken Chain". The expert and several others around me scoffed and laughed, one comenting yeah right you might as well have asked for St Stephen. Well when I heard they brought it out in 1995 I wondered if Phil had heard me and thought yeah we should rehearse that after this tour. Now I am wondering if anyone has a tape where I can be heard. It would have to have been picked up by the bands mic because the tapers were on the back wall at those shows I think. Does anyone have access to those recordings from the board? I am pretty sure it was Feb 93 but it could be 92 Dec or feb. in any case it was certainly Oakland. I usually didn't want to fight my way to the front and I think my reason for doing it this one time was Just to ask for unbroken chain. Has Phil ever said what inspired him to do it live for the first time so many years after Mars Hotel? I would not think I was the only one that ever screamed it out but these were the hard core heads that got that close and they all looked at me like only an idiot would say what you just said. Except for that one recording I have I don't remember anyone ever yelling out a request but as I said before I liked to dance so I had only got this close to the band once. If anyone has a tape with me on it or a Phil interview where he says why 95 please message me. People won't believe I had anything to do with it unless I have proof.
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    Deltapappa2@gm…
    3 years 8 months ago
    Synchronicity...
    I came upon The broken bike chain story and was compelled to tell my own. I'm from Louisiana but was staying with my Buddy in Davis, CA in 99'. I left my bike by accident at "The Domes" community before returning home. I went back up to Davis two years later to find my bike with the same tie-dyed stealie sticker in the exact spot I left it. I get a miracle every day!
  • Mike S -Singin…
    5 years 4 months ago
    Unbroken Chain - amazing and uniquely beautiful
    So much to say about this song!! I can't believe I was lucky to be there the first time they played it in Philly and have enjoyed the beautiful extended jamming that's become the even more wonderful part of the song over the years. Saw a great version when sax player Greg Osby was sitting in with one of the bands post-Dead, b4 Furthur, in Camden NJ, that was amazing.This was always one of my very favorite GD songs from first listening on Mars Hotel in the fall of 1973. I just was getting into meditating and the unique whirry sound during the break was something that some of the meditation gurus would talk about when describing "the inner sound"... for what that's worth.. I went to tons of shows in 73-74 and would always scream for Unbroken Chain but to no avail-- there were rumors that they sound checked it... who knows... finally they played it and since then it's become such a wonderful part of the band's repertoire. Am I right that Phil has moved the lyrics around, during the last verse?? David, while I am very sensitive about gay issues (my son came out last year...), I think it's a stretch to say that the lyric about Love your Brother is about that. The lyrics are very much about religion... and I think how religion really doesn't really work... " "Listening for the secret, searching for the sound But I could only hear the preacher and the baying of his hounds"... that is, yearning for the mystical but only hearing the preacher-man... "They say love your brother but you will catch it when you try" ... again, what the religious people tell you "love thy brother as thyself" is the first commandment.... and he's saying... well, do the best you can.. "Ride out on a cold railroad and nail you to a cross".... another image about what the religious will do to you if you don't fit into their world "They're telling me forgiveness is the key to every door".... again THEY are saying what to do, but it doesn't always work for the true seeker who lives outside the lines, as Bobby Petersen did.... this is such an incredibly beautiful song and the music really does sound like Lilac Rain....